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Lots of boats come to Oriental, some tie up at the Town Dock for a night or two, others drop anchor in the harbor for a while. If you've spent any time on the water you know that every boat has a story. The Shipping News on TownDock.net brings you the stories of the boats that have visited recently.

Living On A Canoe
Dan Friendly
May 13, 2009
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eople pass through Oriental on all manner of vessels, and we’ve yet to become entirely blase about them. So it was, on the last Friday of April, that a resident of town called to say he’d been down to the dinghy dock and seen a man living on a canoe.

A lived-aboard canoe at Oriental’s dinghy dock.
A few minutes later, a visit to the dinghy dock confirmed that. There it was. A 16-foot long Mad River canoe that appeared to be someone’s home. A yellow bicycle covered one half of the canoe’s length. Right in the middle of the canoe was a mast, about six feet high, with a hand-sewn sail made of a child’s bed sheet.

A sleeping bag was airing out on the dinghy dock’s railing, the morning light picking up its wet shimmer. On the dock, a man was laying out what looked like a damp tent.

A camouflage hat shadowed part of his face, which apart from the beard, was reddened by the sun.

( Publisher’s note: The following story… is what it is. It reports what a man said – no more, no less. If you Google some of what was stated, you may not find any supporting information. You can decide. )

He was friendly and when asked if he slept on the small boat, began to explain in great detail how he carries a plywood board on board and when he wants to sleep, places it between the mast and the seat. He sleeps head near the mast, and at the end of his lanky frame, feet up near the end of the canoe.

He further explained that he tied a line from one end of the canoe to the dock and deployed a grappling hook anchor — made of three curved pieces of rebar — out in the water to keep from banging on to the rocks in the night.

Plywood board that is deployed in to a bed.

TownDock’s roving reporter asked if he’d mind if we took some notes. He readily agreed. After all, he said, he was a librarian and that meant he was all for liberty and giving people information. The information he gave over the next half hour helped to piece together the narrative of his story; at the end, though, some pieces left the impression of having been jigsawed from an entirely different puzzle.

Before another question could be asked, the man began talking about the particular kind of library work he did. He said he was a Jobian Flair Librarian. He would use that phrase many times in our conversation. It came up in most of his answers, regardless of the questions.

On this first time that he identified himself as a Jobian Flair Librarian, he quickly added, “but don’t write that.” A moment later, however, perhaps caught up in the desire to explain himself, he said it was okay to share the info, which follows:

The bed on board the 16-foot Mad River canoe..

The Jobian Flair Librarians, he said, come from the days of the monarchy — which was otherwise a system of slavery, in his view. The librarians were the ones with freedom since they had access to the information and books. It was a tradition that passed from father to son.

There are 413 Jobian Flair Librarians in this country, he said, and he was the only civilian among them. One of his tasks as a Jobian Flair Librarian was to go off and have adventures and later write about them.

The rebar-fashioned anchor.

Of his own adventure so far, he provided a brief sketch. He had gotten the canoe on Christmas of last year, he said, then left Greensboro at New Years, and came down the Deep River to the Cape Fear River. Once past Wilmington, he began a northward trek up the ICW. He said he is bound for the Chesapeake.

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Posted Wednesday May 13, 2009 by Melinda Penkava

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